May 5, 2007

Hell talk.

McCain at the debate Thursday night (re Bin Laden): "I will follow him to the gates of hell.”

Giuliani, the very next day: "You sure wouldn't want to be where Saddam Hussein is, where we helped put him."

33 comments:

George said...

And I'll bet that wherever Saddam is he's carrying around a purse...

....a big one....

one that's full of ol' tea bags and Chapsticks and hairbrushes and Crayolas.

downtownlad said...

How silly.

Saddam is not in hell, as hell does not exist. He's just dead.

Fen said...

as hell does not exist.

Ah but it does exist - in this realm, in the present. Humans are fully capable of creating their own "hell" on earth. Some even seek it out.

He's just dead.

Nah, its all karmic. I saw him just the other day. Little cockroach that skittered across my deck. [splat!] Wonder how/where he'll turn up next. Perhaps as an intestinal parasite?

mcg said...

Shortest sermon ever preached, on a sweltering summer day in a Southern Baptist church:

"You think it's hot here..."

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Daniels said...

I know that McCain and Giuliani are using this rhetoric to prove their toughness and to show that they regard Osama and Saddam as evil. But, as a Christian and a pastor, it makes me feel uncomfortable.


From that perspective, it's appropriate for us to make judgments about people's actions, but not their eternal destinies. This is precisely the kind of judging Jesus was excluding when He said, "“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

As to the existence or non-existence of hell, it may be consoling for us to say that it doesn't exist. But some who adgere to this position have reason to second-guess themselves. I refer to that segment of the population surfaced repeatedly by public opinion polls: those who indicate that they regard the Bible as the Word of God, accept the deity of Christ, and believe that there is a heaven, but also dismiss the idea that hell is real. Yet Christ, the central figure of the portion of the Bible accepted as part of the Bible by Christians, insists that both are real.

It's worth noting though, that the Bible doesn't see hell as a threat against the recalcitrant, just a realm people choose. Jesus puts it this way: "“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:16-18). (Keep in mind that when the Bible speaks of "belief," it has more than intellectual assent in mind. It denotes trust.)

I know that in posting this, I'm inviting all sorts of damnation from my fellow Althouse fans, but what the hell?

Mark Daniels

Seven Machos said...

Mark Daniels -- a criticism and a question.

1. Criticism. My interpretation of "Judge not lest ye judged" is that you shouldn't judge unless you are willing to be judged by God on God's terms, on Jewish and Christian principles.

2. Question. Don't people have to way until Judgment Day to be judged? Or is it a streaming judge-as-you-go thing? I don't mean that nearly as flippantly as I have written it. Just trying to be brief.

Mark Daniels said...

7Ms:
1. Criticism: I think that your interpretation is correct. It's in line with what Jesus was saying when explaining the petition of the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." We're to extend the same grace to others that we want God to give to us; otherwise, we must be willing to have God judge us by the same--less charitable--standards we're likely to apply to others.

2. Question: I didn't think you were flippant at all. And the answer, as I understand it, is, "Yes." That in fact, is one point I was trying to make. Obviously, I wasn't clear.

Thanks.

Mark

Fen said...

I know that McCain and Giuliani are using this rhetoric to prove their toughness and to show that they regard Osama and Saddam as evil. But, as a Christian and a pastor, it makes me feel uncomfortable

Me too. Our enemies have hijacked a religion and use the promise paradise/virgins to justify mass murder of non-beleivers. We really don't need to engage that line of reasoning with our own talk of hell and damnation.

And it doesn't play well with this conservative anyway. Its silly chest-thumping.

As to the existence or non-existence of hell,

I thought hell was a creation of Milton? I was raised Methodist, so I admit ignorance on this. [<- lasped Christian]

Fen said...

We're to extend the same grace to others that we want God to give to us; otherwise, we must be willing to have God judge us by the same--less charitable--standards we're likely to apply to others.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't judge.

Mark Daniels said...

The distinction I draw here, Fen, is between judging another person's fitness for heaven or hell or the quality of their relationship with God, on the one hand, and something I'll call civil judgments.

With this latter term, I'm denoting the sorts of judgments we have to make about people's actions interpersonally, in society, internationally, and in the criminal justice system.

As Christians, we're called to be willing to extend forgiveness to others. But that doesn't mean that we should be oblivious to the rightness or the wrongness of their actions. Nor should we exempt them from the civil consequences of their actions.

For example, a parent is within her or his right to discipline their child for failing to clean up their room after being told to do so or for ignoring curfew.

It's appropriate for society to mete out punishment for stealing.

There are judgments being made here, all of which are necessary in order for societies in an imperfect world to function.

In fact, it's possible for people to forgive those who have wronged them, yet acquiesce to their punishment by civil authorities.
Classic example: Pope John Paul II visited Mehmet Ali Agca in prison and extended forgiveness to this man who tried to kill him. But once John Paul gave his forgiveness and proclaimed God's forgiveness to the would-be assassin, he left Agca behind bars. There were still consequences for Agca's action. Civil (in this case, more properly, criminal) justice was appropriate, even after forgiveness was given.

Similarly, when the US was attacked on September 11, 2001 (or on December 7, 1941), it was the obligation of the government to execute a judgment through a response.

I'm tired after a long day and if this has made things as clear as mud, I promise to try to clarify things tomorrow. Until then, I wrote more extensively on this subject of forgiveness recently (specifically in relation to the Imus case)
here.

I really appreciate the civility with which your questions were posed, Fen. I hope that I've done justice to your questions.

Mark

Internet Ronin said...

I fail to see the equivalence of the two remarks. It seems to me that McCain said nothing more than "I will pursue Bin Laden anywhere and everywhere." Surely, "to the Gates of Hell" is a pretty common phrase illustrating that concept. "if necessary" usually accompanies it, IIRC.

OTOH, I understand how some might have problems with Giuliani's phrasing. At the same time, I think it is has been common practice to refer to dead tyrants as residing in Hell (Hitler & Tojo spring to mind), whether it exists or not.

Patrick said...

IR is right about the "Gates of Hell" phrase. I doubt that McCain if pressed would say that's a theologically precise expression. How would a person go about doing that, even if Hell does exist?

Guiliani sounds appropriately vague to me. I don't have the whole context, just the article, but it seems like it could mean just about anything. Could mean as a beetle because of his bad karma. Could just mean 'the grave'. Does anyone want to be in a grave? I wouldn't want to be there. And I wouldn't want to be a beetle.

As regards to if Saddam is in Hell, while it's not good to make blanket judgments about people, I think the Bible gives us cues on what is involved. There's a lot more gray areas than some Fundamentalists might say, but I think there are certain people who in every possible way show that they're not getting the positive side of eternity.

I'm extremely uncomfortable about saying most anyone is going one way or the other, but I feel pretty comfortable with some folks. Nero for instance. Hitler certainly. And Saddam is on that list too. Otherwise we might as well just cross out the nasty judgment stuff scattered throughout the Bible.

Course, one theologian of note says there is a Hell, but no one is going to it because God saves everyone, otherwise he's not really God. In which case, McCain will be chasing Bin Laden to the other gates but will have to find forgiveness once there.

Galvanized said...

I was always taught not to assume anyone is in hell because there's no guarantee that I'll end up where I hope to, either. ;) I'll just hold my tongue on anyone else 'til I get herded to the right. lol

Revenant said...

We're to extend the same grace to others that we want God to give to us; otherwise, we must be willing to have God judge us by the same--less charitable--standards we're likely to apply to others.

It always seemed to me that that teaching made sense as a rule of thumb, but was fairly ridiculous when taken to extremes.

Jesus was talking about judging people for sins that we're all likely guilty of at one time or another. Mass murder is not one of those sins. Any one of us can safely judge a mass murderer. Go *ahead* and judge me by that same standard -- I'll pass with flying colors!

Ann Althouse said...

"I fail to see the equivalence of the two remarks."

I think McCain sounded really tough at the debate, and that was his toughest-sounding line. The next day, Giuliani has a similar line. I thought he was kind of copying -- trying to get sound as tough as McCain. And I think I'm spotting a trend: sounding tough by talking about bad guys and hell.

AllenS said...

The article about Guillani is by Craig Gordon:

He said former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is enduring eternal punishment. "You sure wouldn't want to be where Saddam Hussein is, where we helped put him,"

The words "He said ... eternal punisment" are Gordon's words. If one wanted to, you could imagine Guillani meant six feet under, a popular phrase. You want macho tough talk? Watch Hillary. She'll out bad-ass everyone.

AllenS said...

Giuliani, of course.

vet66 said...

Both McCain and Guiliani have had a taste of 'HELL' in their lives. McCain as a POW and Giuliani dealing with the partial destruction of the city in his charge.

Hillary, on the other hand, dealt with a philandering husband which is close to "HELL' but no cigar!

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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The Drill SGT said...

McCain's father worked for Halsey in WWII and McCain made mention this week of reading Evan Thomas's book on the Battle of Leyte Gulf, where Elder McCain (Grandpa) and Halsey served.

Having said that, one acn't pass up this great appropos quote:

Vice Admiral Halsey was at sea in his flagship, USS Enterprise, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Upon learning of the Japanese attack, he was overheard remarking that after this war the Japanese language would only be spoken in hell.

Invisible Man said...

I also would add that heroic professor at Virginia Tech who had firsthand contact with Nazis and Communists. He didn't hesitate to see evil as evil and respond to it accordingly.

Unfortunately the courageous professor isn't here to give us his reasoning before his actions, but I truly doubt its because he saw evil. I'm guessing that he saw a boy shooting at other children and tried to intervene to save their lives, not wage battle against the "devil's work". His actions were heroic enough without the use of your "good vs. evil" personal positions to make him a hero.

And while I'll give it to you that I can't even imagine what McCain experienced as a POW, equating Giuliani with knowing evil because he was near the Towers isn't really the same thing. Taking your point, McCain had to look evil in the face and endure through its torture while Giuliani only witnessed the aftermath as the rest of us did in seeing the Towers crumble. If anyone truly was in the presence of evil that day and showed their mettle, it was those on United 93 who faced it down and saved lives.

hdhouse said...

If they were make an oblique reference to Dante's Inferno (http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/utopia/gate.html) I would think we had some whopping new blood to consider.

However, in my search for this newage macho man rhetoric, my search brought me to a joke i haven't heard yet:

One day in the future, George Bush has a heart attack and dies. He immediately goes to hell, where the devil is waiting for him.
"I don't know what to do," says the devil. "You are on my list, but I have no room for you. You definitely have to stay here, so I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I've got some folks here who weren't quite as bad as you. I'll let one of them go, but you have to take their place.
I'll even let YOU decide who leaves." Bush thought that sounded pretty good, so the devil opened the first room.

In it was Ronald Reagan and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and surfacing empty handed. Over and over and over. Such was his fate in hell. "No, George said. "I don't think so. I'm not a good swimmer and I don't think I could do that all day long."

The devil led him to the next room. In it was Richard Nixon with a sledge hammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing that hammer, time after time after time. "No, I've got this problem with my shoulder. I would be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day," commented George.

The devil opened a third door. In it, Bush saw Bill Clinton, lying on the floor with his arms staked over his head, and his legs staked in a spread eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best. Bush took this in disbelief and finally said, "Yea, I can handle this." The devil smiled and said "OK, Monica, you're free to go."

AllenS said...

Well, I never laughed so hard in my life.
/ack

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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hdhouse said...

as in Bernard Kerick Ruth Anne?

As we are drawing fine lines, then I guess tossing his mistress in his wife's face is the embodiment of good?

Lame Ruth Anne. Extraordinarily lame.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Mary said...

What jumped out at me from McCain's quote:

Why stop at the gates?

Seems to me the fight is taking place in a hell of sorts, so why is McCain only willing to track him to the gates?

Maybe for some this "hell" talk is impressive. But surely I'm not in the minority thinking that such bombast makes them both sound silly? Are people really turned on by that big talk... and still?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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hdhouse said...

ennnnnnn 1991 or later catholic american bible perhaps? netherworld is not either a literal or figurative translation of hades meaning "grave".

get a better bible perhaps?

Fen said...

But surely I'm not in the minority thinking that such bombast makes them both sound silly?

Nope, I agree with you and I intend to support McCain if he wins the nomination [but will fight against him until then].

Its chest-thumping, something I would expect from Kerry, not McCain. We already have guys chasing OBL to the gates of hell, and McCain is not one of them.

Mark Daniels said...
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Mark Daniels said...

Revenant wrote:
"Any one of us can safely judge a mass murderer. Go *ahead* and judge me by that same standard -- I'll pass with flying colors!"

In a civil and criminal sense, of course we both can and must cast judgments on mass murderers. Even the Bible teaches that God has established civil authority because, in an imperfect world, people will not voluntarily comply with God's Law. Whether speaking of the Ten Commandments or Jesus' discussion of the "Great Commandment," that law can be summarized as love God and love neighbor. Those who haven't voluntarily placed themselves under God's authority will not be complicit with that command apart from coercion. (Biblically speaking, "love" is not a squishy sentimental feeling. Rather, it's a commitment to what is best for others.)

But Jesus would say that if you want to take your chances and have God judge you by the same standards God applies to mass murderers, you won't like your chances. (I wouldn't like mine either!)

Jesus says in Matthew 5: "“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire."

To Jesus, sin has as much to do with intention and even thought as it does with the actions we take. We are as guilty of murder if we physically murder one person as six million. And we are as guilty of murder when we use our words to destroy others' reputations as the killer.

By this standard, I know that I am a murderer. That's where repentance--turning away from sin and turning to God--in Biblical theology comes in. Those who genuinely turn from sin find a welcome from God.

We may not like the "injustice" of that. But I often thank God that He isn't "fair." If he were, I'd be as doomed as your average, run-of-the-mill unrepentant mass murderer.

Mark